Boko Haram has released a new video under the Islamic State in West Africa moniker, in which they display the alleged remains of a Nigerian military jet and claim the Sambisa Forest raid last month did little to weaken their operation.
“We are uncountable in the forests of Sambisa,” says an unidentified man wearing a face covering in the video, who narrates the alleged advances Boko Haram has made since the attack on the forest. Sambisa is believed to be Boko Haram’s last major stronghold in Nigeria; in the beginning of May, the Nigerian military raided the forest and rescued nearly 1,000 women and children who were being held captive by the jihadist terror group.
“Here, in Sambisa, you can travel more than four to five hours under the black flag of Islam,” the man claims, alleging also that a number of conquered towns, including Gamboru and Damasak, remain under Boko Haram control. Damasak was rescued by Nigerian soldiers in April, only to be retaken and fully liberated of the Boko Haram threat upon the arrival of the Chadian military. This Boko Haram video is the first news that the terror group still has a presence there, which may indicate its age.
Another sign that the video is not especially recent is the direct taunting of former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, whose term ended; he was replaced by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was inaugurated Friday.
The terrorists also brandish what they claim are Nigerian military ID cards belonging to soldiers they killed, and tour metallic ruins they claim belong to a Nigerian military jet. They shout “Allahu akbar!” repeatedly while listing world leaders, including President Barack Obama.
(Warning: Video contains graphic footage)
Conspicuously absent from the video is Abubakar Shekau, the leader of the terrorist group, who usually stars in Boko Haram propaganda videos. Whether he is alive or dead is unknown; the Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed to have killed him, only to have a new video surface featuring him. He is also believed to use many doubles to confuse authorities. Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper notes that the last Boko Haram video released prominently featured Shekau, in February. A month later, the group pledged official allegiance to the Islamic State, and Shekau has not been seen since.
The latest video features an “Islamic State in West Africa” logo on the upper left side.
Following the video’s release, a suicide bomber once again targeted the Gamboru market in Maiduguri, Nigeria, the capital of northeastern Borno state. While no official death tallies have been released, the Associated Press reports that at least 20 people were killed. Violence continued as those present for the bombing began attempting to stone Nigerian government emergency rescue workers “for unknown reasons.”
Maiduguri has long been the most coveted territory for Boko Haram. President Buhari used the occasion of his inauguration to announced that, to protect Maiduguri, he would relocate the nation’s military headquarters there–out of Abuja, the Nigerian capital–until Boko Haram was finally defeated.